|Who will ABC assemble in the broadcast booth for the 2018 Indianapolis 500?|
Per the official IndyCar Series app produced by Verizon, it appears that there have been a few additions to the 2018 schedule giving fans a first look at the television line-up for next season writes Tanner Watkins of Open Wheels.
On the official IndyCar app, nine races have already been listed with television partners alongside. Each of these races return to their 2017 television partner, and that is to be expected with no drastic changes to the current television contract as it completes one final year.
The races listed include: for ABC, the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 11), IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis (May 12) and the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (May 27). It is essentially a lock that ABC will also carry qualifications for the Indianapolis 500, with those dates being May 19 and 20.
As for NBC Sports, they are once again relegated to using the NBC Sports Network for all IndyCar coverage as ESPN on ABC holds the exclusive network television rights. The races listed for NBCSN to this point are: the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 15), Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (April 22), Honda Indy Toronto (July 15), Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (July 29), Grand Prix of Portland (September 2) and the season finale at Sonoma Raceway (September 16).
Many fans were asking for revisions to the current television contract prior to its expiration at the end of next season, and it looks like those requests went unfulfilled. Earlier this fall there were rumblings that NBC would attempt to buy ABC out of its remaining event obligations, giving the Peacock Network unrestricted potential to broadcast races on network television.
Believably, ABC’s affiliation with the Indianapolis 500 halted those prospects and it appears there may still be a fight from the Disney-owned television company when a new deal is negotiated in 2018.
While not initially listed, one could assume that ABC will also carry the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix, a two-race event held the weekend following the Indianapolis 500. The event has been a staple in ESPN on ABC’s coverage plan over the past few seasons and helps ABC meet their minimum broadcast obligations.
Open-Wheels will continue to monitor the situation with the 2019 season less than 15 months away. While it was expected following the 2017 season finale, announcing a new broadcasting agreement could potentially be delayed well into 2018 as the sanctioning body actively searches for a new title sponsor.
Interestingly enough, it should be noted that these listings cannot be found on IndyCar’s website-based schedule.
Below are the screenshots from the IndyCar app’s 2018 schedule tab: Tanner Watkins/OpenWheels